Funeral service for William “Merle” Spence, 82, of Sulphur Springs, TX will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, April 8, 2023 at Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home with Shane Carrington officiating. Interment will be held at 4:00P.M. on Saturday April 8, 2023 at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Bradley, Arkansas. Visitation will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. on Friday, April 7, 2023 at Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home. Mr. Spence passed away April 1, 2023 with family by his side.
Merle was born in Bradley, Arkansas to William Mark “Bill” Spence and Lillie Mae (Thomas) Spence. He was the only son born to Bill and Lillie, and he and his five sisters grew up on the family farm. When he was 10, his family moved to Texas where he spent the rest of his life with the exception of a few years in Colorado.
He had a strong relationship with God and was a member of his local Church of Christ for almost all of his life. He was a man of many talents and would talk with anyone about the things he was passionate about in life. He loved his faith, his family, hunting, fishing, building houses and sharing his Mechanical Engineering degree knowledge. He was the first in his immediate family to graduate from college, even though by his own admission, his favorite part of school in his younger years was the final bell. However, when he was 15, his family moved to Odessa TX and a teacher at his school said that Merle was the best student he had ever had. That encouragement stuck with Merle his entire life.
Merle was married to Anna (Moss) Spence for 62 years; she was the love of his life. When they first met, he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. She was different from the other girls at church and she was smart as well as pretty. They had a great life together, moving to a new city and building or restoring a house together about every decade or so. Merle retired early and they were able to travel the US and Canada in their RV and visit other countries on their adventures as well as in their mission work.
Together they reared four strong, successful children who got their determination and drive from their father; each held executive titles in their careers. He was very proud of his children and shared their accomplishments as the proud, boastful father that he was. His children were able to go on many adventures with him and Anna. As they grew up, married and had kids of their own, his grandkids spent many holidays and vacations with them. He loved spending time with his grandkids, grand niece and nephews and taking them on his riding tractor and helping in his workshop.
Merle was a man who dove deep down and learned by taking things apart and studying it down to each nut and bolt. During his career as a firefighter, the crew joked that he knew every word in the operations manual. He was given the honor of writing an emergency operations manual for a hypothetical catastrophic event: a chemical leak on the main highway. He wrote such a thorough and complete manual that they later asked him to write a newer edition of the main operating manual. After a few years as a firefighter, he obtained his private pilots license, a commercial pilot rating and was an instrument instructor. He then went on to get his Mechanical Engineering degree and was hired by Getty Oil & Gas, which later became Texaco. He spent the remainder of his career at Texaco, rising to the District Superintendent of the Natural Gas division and retired at 58. While working, his only goal in mind was to be completely dedicated to doing a great job. This led to him being quickly promoted throughout his career.
He had the love and support of his family and loved ones as he fought during his two year battle with ALS. He never let the disease take control of his life. In true Merle fashion, he handled things on his own terms.
He is survived by his wife, Anna Moss Spence, sons Mark Spence (Deloris Beck), Michael Spence (Melissa), daughter Cindy Bledsoe (Trey Phillips), son Mitchell Spence (Laura), grandchildren Reed DeFever (Heidi), Spencer DeFever, Kristen Bunn (Cody), Ashlee Spence, Jake Spence and Nick Bledsoe, great-grandchildren Madelain DeFever and Blake DeFever, sisters Marcie Spence Petty, Sally Spence, Sue Spence Bird, numerous nieces, nephews and brother and sister in laws. He also leaves behind his former daughter-in-law Ikuko Nakamoto and former son-in-law Lance DeFever.
He is preceded in death by his parents, William Mark “Bill” and Lillie Mae (Thomas) Spence, sisters Lavinia Spence Maus, Virginia Spence Byrd, brother-in-law Tommy Moss, mother-in-law AnnaBelle Moss, father-in-law Leroy Moss and grandson Ryan Spence.